In the early days of the Internet, there was hope that the unprecedented tool for global communication would lead to thoughtful sharing and discussion on its most popular sites.

A decade and a half later, the very idea is laughable, says Gawker Media founder Nick Denton.

"It didn't happen," said Denton, whose properties include the blogs Gawker, Jezebel, Gizmodo, io9 and Lifehacker, among others. "It's a promise that has so not happened that people don't even have that ambition any more.

"The idea of capturing the intelligence of the readership -- that's a joke."


mk: Denton seems to see commentors as unruly masses.

Gawker has a value, and that's to provide a certain type of news. Gawker as a business is not interested in me as a customer to an extent beyond my visits, which they can sell to advertisers. The bargain is that I read their content, and they sell my visits. As an individual, I am expendable, and the value I am provided is not much more than gossip I can read over lunch. I don't get personally invested in Gawker. Gawker is not interested in me beyond my visits. If more individuals prefer something that I don't, Gawker will change. This relationship has a basis that will show in certain situations. Comments are one of them. In the comment section of Gawker, you have a number of users interacting in a place that does not belong to them, in fact, money is being made off of the time they spend there. There is no difference in saying something positive or negative, and this, coupled with the underlying nature of the Gawker/reader relationship, the negative feels cathartic.

The idea that you can engineer a forum that is not fundamentally respectful to the individual user to generate respectful behavior is wrong-headed. People are not that complicated. If you want to understand how people will behave, you need to look at yourself. Denton seems to see commentors as 'others'. Expansive institutions and networks built upon intelligent and respectful interactions do exist. There are places on the web where intelligent discourse and interaction takes place. However, these institutions provide something of value for the participants, which makes it something important. This generates goodwill and a sense of concern.

I agree with Denton that Gawker will probably never be able to have a quality commenting section. That would be like expecting people to discuss poetry at a baseball game. The medium does not support it. There are people that are interested in engaging in meaningful and quality discussions. However, they won't have these discussions in any environment.

As this regards to Hubski, it's my belief that Hubski cannot 'firewall' against undesirable content and discussion. IMO the effort to identify undesirable content and discussion and to block it will eventually make Hubski a medium that does not generate respect. It is my theory that Hubski can be a platform for content and conversations, some of which may be respectful, and some of which that may not. I imagine Hubski as a type of community center with different types of activity going on centered around different types of interests. Each user can design his or her schedule accordingly. We may or may not be able to get this right, but that is my goal. As GoatFood mentions, Wikipedia is an example of what can be done with a mission to provide value. Of course, Hubski is very different from Wikipedia in that it hosts discussion, rather than factual information.


posted by forwardslash: 2468 days ago